Rockaway Records

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Rockaway Records
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Rockaway Records

Source: J. Percy Crayon, Rockaway Records of Morris County, N.J., Families, (1902, Rockaway, N.J., Rockaway Publishing Co.)

As with any information, please use this only as a guide, not a substitute for your own research. As diligent as Mr. Crayon was in compiling this work, there are some notable errors that have been found.

The following Table of Contents, while not in the original book, has been created to allow for easy access to the various sections of the book.

Table of Contents

The Rockaway Cemetery Records

Pages 1-3

    In the interest of local history and genealogy of the old Morris County families these records have been arranged. It is a grave subject: the threads of romance were woven many years ago by the honored names now recalled to memory.

    In the arrangement the names are given with the date of birth and death, alphabetically and also chronologically, with parentage and family connection as far as known to the writer.

    All the monumental records have been carefully copied and compared with church records, family records, local newspaper files and other records, and corrected from the best information obtainable. The records of burials have been carefully recorded by the present sexton, Mr. John G. MOTT, since July 1875, and the whole work carefully revised by him. The average date between death and burial has been three days, and the date of death has been given and corrected from the monumental and other records.

    There are no records of the sextons previous to this date. Could these records have been arranged at the time of the “old sexton,” Mr. David GORDON, who for over forty years faithfully filled that office, much could have been added. The church and monumental records have only partially filled this space.

    Rockaway was settled as early as 1720, and became a place of considerable  business in 1730 in the building of the Job ALLEN Iron Works. Tradition relates that this particular spot had been selected as a burial ground, God’s acre, by the early families, but their names have not been recorded outside of the ALLEN and JACKSON families. At a later period, 1740 and 50, we have a goodly number in the immediate vicinity, and those connected with the building of the Church, 1752, and later those connected with the church, 1758 to 1768, the number of names increased rapidly.

   In the researches of the ancient burials, many are know to have been buried here, but the dates of births and deaths cannot now be obtained. Many of these old families having removed at an early date and all records have been taken with them. Traces of many of these old families have been found and much valuable information has been gained by correspondence. So many facts and traditions relating to the older families, their history and connection with old Rockaway have been learned, that the cemetery records would not now be complete without knowing more about these connections. These brief histories and genealogies may prove more entertaining than the Cemetery records, and are reserved for the last.

   Special research has been made of those located here, who have served in the old French and Indian War, the Revolution, and the 1812 War, and those connected with the militia at a later date. These have been most difficult to obtain, as the State records have never been completed in this line. The boys who wore the blue in 1861-5, comrades must not be forgotten, nearly 150 of these ancient and modern worthies have answered the final roll call, and are now resting in peace from their patriotic and warrior services in this cemetery.

    Cemetery statistics show some strange results. The Morristown Bill of Mortality from 1770 to 1775 records about 200 burials in five years. One hundred of  these were children below 15 years of  age, 15 of the whole number died of old age. The hardships and privations of this period, the want of proper food, clothing and medical attendance had much to do with this, but the later date records do not show any improvement in the mortality among those of early age.

   In the records where the age is given from 1875 to 1899, twenty-four years, of those buried in the Rockaway Cemetery 496 died between the age of birth and 5 years, more than one-half of this number did not attain the age of 1 year. 74 died between the age of 5 and 10 years; 84 between 10 and 20; 72 between 20 and 30; 79 between 30 and 40; 68 between 40 and 50; 89 between 50 and 60; 101 between 60 and 70; 105 between 70 and 80; 91 between 80 and 90; 9 between 90 and 100. About one-half died before the age of 15 years, and the larger percentage between 60 and 80. During the 10 years between 1875 to 1885, this percentage was very much larger than during the later period, with a very low percentage between the ages of 20 and 40.

    Rockaway and its vicinity as the statistics show can be noted for its aged people. Dr. TUTTLE writes: “that 15 years (1847 to 1862) in that congregation the record showed 1 had assisted at the funerals of 65 persons over 70 years of age. Of these 19 were between 80 and 90; 10 between 90 and 94; and one was said to be 115 years.” From Dr. Barnabas KING’s fortieth anniversary sermon, preached Dec. 31, 1848, we learn that he had officiated at 681 funerals, very many aged people. He had preached 12,000 times, solomnized 417 marriages, baptized 547 children, and received in the church 680 members. What a record!   

    The oldest Monumental record is of brown stone, being well preserved, better than many others of later date, it is situated in the valley near the central part of the old burial ground, about 100 yards back  of where the old church was located in a knoll in the rear of the present church. It has this inscription: 

Here lies the body
Of Mary Wife
Of David Estile.
Deceased April 8th 
1762 aged 24 

It would seem from the old records that the “grave ground” and “Meeting hous Lot” had been allowed to grow up as in 1796 an agreement was made for the “clearing the whole of the Meeting hous Lot, by cutting the stumps low and all the under brush and burn it all for the wood and old rails.” We have followed the original spelling.

    The first records of a family plot was in 1807. Joseph JACKSON  was permitted to “enclose in a fence twenty-eight feet square in the grave ground at the Meeting house where his wife is buried, for a burying ground for his family, and such of his father’s family as may choose to bury their dead.”

   In transcribing the names from the monuments, “Our Willie” and “Little Maggie” have been rendered plain William and Margaret, also all suffixes and prefixes have been dispensed with in the records that we might have occasion to give more honorable mention. The records give only monumental, church and sexton records, while the genealogies will give the names, and dates when possible, of many others who are buried here, and in family connection in other immediate cemeteries, as we have the records of many of  them.

    In transcribing the many thousands of names and dates that will follow, it is not possible that they should all be correct. Should any of those connected, or who have friends buried here, find errors of name or date, or can give any information concerning these persons or families, we should be please to have any corrections or information, so that the records may be made historically correct.

    The writings and corrections of Dr. Joseph F. TUTTLE, who more than any other has added to the history of Morris County, and more particularly old Rockaway when he was for seventeen years associated with its people, are found in the New Jersey historical Society. To him it was a labor of love. His interests and faculty for transcribing the early traditions and facts concerning our Revolutionary fathers in this historic locality will always be appreciated by future generations.

    He wrote me that the vote of thanks given at some of his historical lectures fully repaid him for the time and labor expended. It was then as now, much valuable information is being withheld in the way of historical documents and old records, with the idea that they are very valuable in the way of dollars and cents, while their real valuation are only of historical interest.

   To my many correspondence in the several states who have aided me in this work, and written words of encouragement, and those who have kindly aided me from their own private records and libraries, and all other, who from a delicate sense of modesty will not permit the mention of their names in this undertaking, I return my sincere thanks. If my work has aided you in the general exchange of information, it has filled its mission.

Transcribed by:  John Cresseveur (1949-2003)

Copyright ©1999-2017 by Brianne Kelly-Bly, all rights reserved.